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Preventing Child & Youth Injuries: The Statistics are Shocking

In 1990, 10% of the 51 million deaths worldwide were due to injury.  It is projected that by 2020, this figure will increase to 8.4 million annually, making injury the greatest single cause of loss of healthy years of human life, especially among children and young adults.

According to the World Health Organization’s  2008 World Report on Child Injury Prevention, approximately 950,000 children aged 17 and under were killed by an injury in 2004, and 87% of these were due to unintentional and potentially preventable causes.  Injury has been described as the “neglected disease of modern society”, an “invisible epidemic”, and “the principal public health problem in North America today. If high income countries were to implement programs using proven-effective interventions which considered the special vulnerability of children, more than a thousand children’s lives would be saved each day.  Some countries began implementing strong injury prevention (IP) policies and infrastructure several decades ago, and now achieve the lowest injury rates in the world. A commonly cited example is Sweden. If Canada enjoyed the same child injury rate as Sweden, from 1991 to 1995:

  • 1233 children would not have died;
  • 23,000 to 50,000 would not have been hospitalized; and
  • More than 250,000 would not have visited emergency departments.

Today, preventable injuries remain the leading cause of death among Canadians ages 1 to 44 years old. For the second year in a row, July 5th was declared as National Injury Prevention Day by the Parachute Organization.  Many municipalities around Canada, including the GTA showed their support by lighting landmarks around their cities green. Steve Podborski, Parachute President and CEO has said “We want to change those numbers, but we can’t do it alone. We encourage Canadians to join us in sharing our messaging to help inform others, raise awareness, and drastically lower this staggering number of preventable injuries.

As a personal injury lawyer, that represents many paediatric client throughout the GTA and southern Ontario, I have seen preventable injuries happen at home, school, sports, camps, parks, or in cars, which statistics show cause over 16,000 deaths in Canada each year.   Here are a few simple tips that I have learned through representing my young clients to help you keep your child safer this summer:

  1. With the GTA experiencing an extreme heat wave, more kids and teenagers are hitting the water to cool off.  Open water drownings are increasing each year, especially in teenagers between the ages of 15 to 19 years old.  To prevent more injuries and deaths due to water, always swim in areas of the open water that are clearly marked for swimmers and do not have steep drops offs.  If your children are in the water alone, make sure they are being watched at all times, and wear a lifejacket if they are not strong swimmers. In addition, consider signing your child up for swim lessons at summer camps, such as Atlantis Swim.
  2. While the open water is a popular spot for families to go during the summer season, biking is also a popular activity for kids and families in Toronto.   Current studies find that hundreds of children are injured on their bikes each day and these injuries can range anywhere from cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones and potentially serious brain injuries. The main way to help prevent these injuries is by ensuring your child always wears a helmet; and adults should do so too. By wearing a helmet you not only keep yourself safe; but you are also being a role model for your child.  You should also consider signing your child up for a bike camp. A great camp to ensure your kids learn the rules of the road is Pedalheads.
  3. Another preventable injury that is a main topic in the news during the hot weather is leaving children unattended in vehicles. With the temperature outside at an extreme high, leaving a child unattended can be very dangerous as a child’s body heats rises 3 to 5 times faster than an adult’s body temperature. In the United States, 1 child dies every 10 days from heat stroke inside a vehicle. Always try to remember to check the backseat of your vehicle or leave an object that you know you will need at the next stop in the backseat as a helpful reminder on a busy day.

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